Neil Whiteley is haunted by his brother’s murder, wondering how long it took the retired teacher to succumb to his many stab wounds.
Christopher Whiteley’s severely decomposed body was found on the floor of his NSW Blue Mountains home one month after he was attacked by two intruders.
“How anyone can do that to another and then leave them to die is beyond my comprehension,“ his brother said in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.
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He read out his victim impact statement at the sentence hearing of Ammie Douglass for the 2016 murder of the 69-year-old retiree in his Lithgow home.
Douglass, 32, was found guilty by a judge at her third trial in Bathurst in September, after a Sydney jury was unable to reach a verdict in January 2022.
The retrials followed her successful appeal against a Bathurst jury’s guilty verdict in 2018.
Douglass and a man, known for legal reasons as AS, stabbed Whiteley when he confronted them as they broke into his home to steal money.
They left him bleeding and dying on the floor while they took a Subway bag containing thousands of dollars in cash hidden under his mattress.
On subsequent nights they returned to search and take more money as their victim was on the floor.
Whiteley told Justice Mark Ierace his brother lived a quiet life, keeping to himself and not interfering with anyone.
“That is everyone’s right should they choose and should not result in them becoming a target for crime,” he said.
His highly intelligent brother liked bushwalking, motor racing and steam trains, had served in the army and had won a Queen’s Scout Award.
Whiteley said when he applied for a copy of the post-mortem examination report, a detective advised him against it.
The detective suggested “it would be too traumatic and having read it there was no way I could go back – I took his advice”, he said.
At 69, his brother was no match for much younger armed assailants who showed no compassion in not seeking medical help and leaving him to die alone, he said.
He added the family had to endure hearing the horrific forensic evidence in three trials while the assailants sometimes treated the case as a laughing matter.
The coroner could not say how long it would have taken his brother to succumb to his wounds.
“I am left to hope it was not for long,” Whiteley said.
‘Brutal, cruel, callous’
Prosecutor Max Pincott noted the judge at the first trial had sentenced Douglass to a non-parole jail term of 19 years and six months.
But Pincott submitted a longer period was warranted due to new evidence indicating Douglass’ level of culpability was greater than that assessed by the first judge.
The first judge said Douglass could not be sentenced on the basis she had stabbed Whitelely, but Justice Ierace found she had admitted stabbing him in the eye and the back.
Describing Douglass’ conduct as “brutal, cruel and callous”, Pincott said if Whiteley had been conscious he would have gone through the agony of dying alone.
Douglass’ barrister Thomas Jones said the judge needed to take into account the lesser sentence imposed on AS, who pleaded guilty and who had a criminal record.
Jones submitted Douglass had a childhood marred by social disadvantage involving drug abuse and violence, and she had been exposed to violence in her intimate relationships.
He said the judge could find Douglass had reasonable prospects for rehabilitation, although she still maintained her innocence.
Douglass will be sentenced at a later date.
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